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‘The Sopranos’ Tops List of Best-Written TV Series

The 1999-2007 HBO organized crime drama “The Sopranos” topped the list of 101 Best Written TV Series released Monday by the two branches of the Writers Guild of America at a panel discussion in Beverly Hills.

The 1989-98 NBC comedy “Seinfeld” was second in the voting by more than 1,500 members of the Writers Guild of America, West and Writers Guild of America, East, followed by the 1959-64 version of “The Twilight Zone”; “All in the Family” and “M.A.S.H.”; “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”; “Mad Men”; “Cheers”; “The Wire” and “The West Wing” completed the rest of the top 10.

All genres of scripted series were eligible for consideration, including animation, children’s, daytime, miniseries with six hours or more of programming and variety and talk shows. Series must have been written in English, aired in the U.S. and featured onscreen writing credits.

“We’re very pleased to see all genres and decades represented,” said Aaron Mendelsohn, the chair of the Writers Guild of America, West’s Publicity & Marketing Committed, who created the best screenplays and series lists.

“Writers are very, very good at remembering shows that they loved, that struck them, that made an impression as they were growing up or as they were starting their careers.”

The project is an attempt to “celebrate great television writing, honor great television writers and to raise the profiles of television writers and their contribution to the medium,” Mendelsohn told City News Service.

“Writers always think their profiles are too low,” said Mendelsohn, who co-wrote the screenplay for the 1997 family film “Air Bud.” “We don’t get the same kind of attention and credit actors and directors get and we feel lists like this help to stimulate that.”

“Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner attributed his series’ writing success to being left alone by AMC and its production company, Lionsgate Television and “there is some trust that we can deliver a story and the actors will execute it.”

“Lionsgate and AMC have always been like, `Bring it in on budget, you can write whatever you want and if the audience doesn’t like it, you’re gone,”’ Weiner said.

“Modern Family” co-creator Steve Levitan called it amazing that the ABC comedy series was  elected after just four seasons on the air.

“It’s very, very extremely flattering just to be mentioned in the same ballpark as some of these great shows,” said Levitan, whose series was ranked 34th, between “Star Trek” and “Twin Peaks.

“I grew up watching ‘All in the Family,’ ‘Mary Tyler Moore’ and ‘Cheers’ and all those great amazing shows and they shaped what I wanted to do with my life. I’m thrilled to be associated with them in any way. I will happily just carry their stuff here.”

Levitan praised his show’s writing staff for “working really, really hard for four years, mining stories from their lives, mining some crazy thoughts that we have, not settling and writing up to the audience.”

101 Best Written TV Series:
1. “The Sopranos,” HBO;
2.  ”Seinfeld,” NBC;
3. “The Twilight Zone,” CBS’
4. “All in the Family,” CBS;
5. “MASH,” CBS;
6. “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” CBS;
7. “Mad Men,” AMC;
8. “Cheers,” NBC;
9. “The Wire,” HBO
10. “The West Wing,” NBC;
11.  ”The Simpsons,” Fox
12. “I Love Lucy,” CBS;
13. “Breaking Bad,” AMC
14. “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” CBS;
15. “Hill Street Blues,” NBC;
16. “Arrested Development,” Fox;
17. “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” Comedy Central;
18. “Six Feet Under,” HBO;
19. “Taxi,” ABC;
20. “The Larry Sanders Show,” HBO;
21. “30 Rock,” NBC;
22. “Friday Night Lights,” NBC
23. “Frasier,” NBC;
24. “Friends,” NBC;
25. “Saturday Night Live,” NBC;
26. “The X-Files,” Fox;
27. “Lost,” ABC;
28. “ER,” NBC
29. “The Cosby Show,” NBC
30. “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” HBO
31. “The Honeymooners,” CBS;
32. “Deadwood,” HBO;
33. “Star Trek,” NBC;
34. “Modern Family,” ABC;
35. “Twin Peaks,” ABC
36. “NYPD Blue,” ABC;
37. “The Carol Burnett Show,” CBS;
38. “Battlestar Galactica,” Sci-Fi Channel;
39. “Sex & the City,” HBO;
40. “Game of Thrones,” HBO;
41. (tie) “The Bob Newhart Show,” CBS;
41. “Your Show of Shows,” NBC;
43. (tie) “Downton Abbey,” PBS;
43. “Law & Order,” NBC;
43. “thirtysomething,” ABC
46. (tie) “Homicide: Life on the Street,” NBC
46. “St. Elsewhere,” NBC
48. “Homeland,” Showtime;
49. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” WB;
50. (tie) “The Colbert Report,” Comedy Central;
50. “The Good Wife,” CBS;
50. “The Office” (UK), BBC;
53. “Northern Exposure,” CBS;
54. “The Wonder Years,” ABC;
55. “L.A. Law,” NBC;
56. “Sesame Street,” PBS;
57. “Columbo,” NBC;
58. (tie) “Fawlty Towers,” BBC;
58. “The Rockford Files,” NBC;
60. (tie) “Freaks and Geeks,” NBC;
60. “Moonlighting,” ABC;
62. “Roots,” ABC;
63. (tie) “Everybody Loves Raymond,” CBS;
63. “South Park,” Comedy Central;
65. “Playhouse 90,” CBS;
66. (tie) “Dexter,” Showtime
66. “The Office” (US), NBC;
68. “My So-Called Life,” ABC;
69. “The Golden Girls,” NBC;
70. “The Andy Griffith Show,” CBS;
71. (tie) “24,” Fox;
71. “Roseanne,” ABC;
71. “The Shield,” FX;
74. (tie) “House,” Fox;
74. “Murphy Brown,” CBS;
76. (tie) “Barney Miller,” ABC;
76. “I, Claudius,” PBS;
78. “The Odd Couple,” ABC;
79. (tie) “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” CBS;
79. “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” BBC;
79. “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” Syndication
79. “Upstairs, Downstairs,” PBS;
83. “Get Smart,” NBC;
84. (tie) “The Defenders,” CBS;
84. “Gunsmoke,” CBS;
86. (tie) “Justified,” FX;
86. “The Phil Silvers Show,” CBS;
88. “Band of Brothers,” HBO;
89. “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In,” NBC;
90. “The Prisoner,” CBS;
91. (tie) “Absolutely Fabulous” (UK), BBC;
91. “The Muppet Show,” Syndication;
93. “Boardwalk Empire,” HBO;
94. “Will & Grace,” NBC;
95. “Family Ties,” NBC;
96. (tie) “Lonesome Dove,” CBS;
96. “Soap,” ABC;
98. “The Fugitive,” ABC;
99. (tie) “Late Night with David Letterman,” CBS;
99. “Louie,” FX;

101. “Oz,” HBO.